Children are disappearing from northern Ohio in record numbers, with over 1,000 kids reported missing this year so far, as officials admit a worrying trend is emerging.
This month alone, over 45 children have gone missing in the Cleveland-Akron area.
In August, there were 35 reported missing children, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s missing children website.
The disturbing trend began in May, when almost 30 children went missing in just the first two weeks.
In what has been described as an “extraordinary surge,” officials are baffled by the rise in disappearing kids.
On Monday, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said the number of missing kids in Ohio is alarming.
“Yes, of course, we are worried about that,” he told News 5 Cleveland.
“Now, what we know is when we look behind the numbers, some of those represent repeated runaways, and local police have talked about that,” he said.
He added that there may be skewed data with runaway cases, abductions, or sex trafficking due to police staffing shortages.
“All of these things have localized reporting problems that, again, are a function of local conditions,” Yost said.
“We do our best to encourage compliance and improve assistance to remove barriers, but at the end of the day, we have to rely on our local partners that we don’t control,” he added.
“I am fearful of all kinds of things that fall through the cracks, that include missing children,” Yost said.
“I rely on the tenacity of a worried parent more than I do a harried bureaucrat whose job it is to put data into a computer.”
Meanwhile, the president of Cleveland Missing and the police chief of Newburgh Heights, John Majoy, sounded the alarm on the surge of missing kids in Ohio.
“For some reason, in 2023, we’ve seen a lot more than we normally see, which is troubling in part because we don’t know what’s going on with some of these kids — whether they’re being trafficked or whether they’re involved in gang activity or drugs,” he told Fox News.
Majoy added that he has not seen such high numbers of missing children during his 33-year career.
Majoy said it is likely that a lot of cases involve children who ran away from home but added that teens can be naïve about predators who can be “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
As The New York Post reported:
Among the missing children is Keshaun Williams, 15, who vanished after attending a house party on June 17.
Gideon Hefner, 14, went missing on September 12 from American Township, and Camryn Nicole Golias, 17, was last seen in Akron earlier this month.
Elijah Hill, 16, disappeared on September 20 from Sandusky, and Iyahna Graham, 17, vanished from North Canton on September 23.
Just a few days earlier, Teonnah Thompkins, 17, was last seen in Cincinnati, wearing a black shirt, black pants, and white shoes.
Maurice Hamrick, 14, Honesty Howell, 16, and Chloe Hadley, 17, disappeared within five days of each other earlier this month.
Yost said the state is working to develop an improved statewide data collection reporting system to help find the missing children.
“Law enforcement can’t be everywhere and can’t see everything,” he said.
“We rely on the people, the population because we have 11.7 million pairs of eyes out there that can keep an eye out.”
Concerned parents have started their own efforts to find their children, including Breana Brown, who started the organization Join Us in Minors Protection to help bolster support and awareness.
“As a community, I feel like we need to do more,” she told News 5 Cleveland.
“We need to make it a priority.”
“We have so many missing children; we want to prevent this from happening, so we need to buckle down. This is not a matter we should take lightly, not at all.”